COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 12 Aug) – A few teenaged kids scavenging garbage here were rejoicing upon seeing three Nokia cellphones inside a white bag amid a pile of trash dumped by the garbage truck at the city’s sanitary landfill Sunday afternoon.
But upon closer inspection, the boys backed away as they also saw a box with protruding wires aside from the three Nokia 3310 phones.
One of the boys, Toto (not his real name), said they immediately reported their find to the security guard of the city hall, dubbed “People’s Palace,” which is only 500 meters away from the dumpsite.
“There was something inside the bag tightly packed inside a cellophane, wrapped in scotch tape,” said Toto. “There was something sharp, there were wires, and three Nokia 3310 phones,” he said in the vernacular.
The police and the Army immediately sent explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) teams. Aside from the cellphones and the wires, they saw a blasting cap and three mortar rounds, ingredients for an improvised explosive device (IED). But it took them hours to disarm the bomb.
PO2 Reynaldo Bayal, police bomb technician, said the mortar shells were connected to a blasting cap, but the wires were not connected to the cellphones yet.
He said that if the blasting cap catches fire, even if not yet connected to the cellphones, would already cause the IED to explode.
“Our assessment – the bomb has not been fully assembled yet,” said Bayal.
Senior Supt. Rolen Balquin, city police director, immediately called for a command conference today to further discuss beefing up security of the city.
A week ago, a powerful bomb went off in the busy area along Sinsuat Avenue right downtown, killing eight persons and wounding 32 others, supposedly targeting the convoy of city administrator Cynthia Sayadi-Guaini, sister of Mayor Japal Guiani.
Both admitted they have received death threats from kidnapping and drug syndicates.
The series of threats was followed by Saturday night’s throwing of grenade near a Marine post in the supermarket area.
In a phone interview Balquin said they are not discounting that the explosives found were meant to be picked up by experts in assembling IEDs, but garbage collectors unintentionally gathered the mortars.
“We are not discounting that possibility but we are also investigating deeper on these new wave of bombing attempts,” he said.
In 2007, a garbage collector here died and another was wounded when they accidentally collected an unexploded IED.
In a statement, Sayadi said: “Let karma work to the ruthless people behind these evil attacks.” She called on Cotabateños to be vigilant, and to report to authorities when they see suspicious people.
Cotabato has declared a month-long mourning to show sympathy to the families of those who perished in the August 5 car bomb attack.